Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani-Bello said the late Very Reverend Father Jeremiah Dermot O’Connell who died on Wednesday lived an impactful and selfless life of service to humanity.
Condoling the Nigerlites on the demise of the Irish Clergy in Minna on Thursday, the governor said the late educationist was an accomplished man, whose products of human development efforts are currently found in various leadership positions and other human endeavours in the state in particular and the country in general.
The Governor eulogised the exemplary life style of the Catholic missisionary who spent 55 of his productive years in the service of the state.
“Father O’Connell contributions, especially in education, religion and peace building are legendary and are written with indelible ink on the minds of many generations of Nigerlites.
“He has left footprints on the sand of time. Father O’Connell knew no bound in impacting knowledge to those he came across. The state cannot pay back what he did to it, but we will continue to pray for the repose of his soul”.Governor Sani-Bello said.
The Governor then enjoined all to pray that God grant O’Connell, who was fondly called “Principal” a peaceful rest and his family the fortitude to bear with the irreparable loss.
Reverend Father O’ Connell arrived Nigeria through Calabar, Cross River state in 1962 by 1963 he was in Niger State and joined Fatima College (the only co-education college in the state then) in 1967 which was renamed Government Secondary School, Minna when the government took over the school in 1976.
In appreciation to his selfless contributions to the nurturing of Govermment Secondary School Minna, Governor Sani-Bello renamed the school after him to immortalise O’ Connell who served the school for 50 years as its Principal.
He served Niger State for 55 years with over 50 of the years dedicated to teaching.
His efforts were not left un-noticed, in 1974 he was awarded the best Principal of the secondary schools in the defunct North Western state and the best Principal in Niger State in 1999.
O’ Connell in 1992 and 2008 was honoured with the ‘Most Outstanding Performance and Productivity’ award by the state and the Federal Government conferred on him the national honour of the Member of the Federal Republic (MFR).
He was turbaned the Jagaban Ilimi Minna by the Emir of Minna as part of his contribution to the development of education in the emirate.
O’Connell born in Castletownroche, Cork, on the 1st of September 1935 and was ordained Catholic priest on Easter Sunday 1961.
He arrived the Catholic Diocese of Calabar as his first posting and taught in St Columbanus Secondary School, Ikwen in 1962. He was transferred to the prefecture of Minna in 1963 and he spent over fifty-five years as Principal of Government Secondary School.
He returned to his country home in Kiltegan, Cork, Ireland following his retirement last year April.
O’ Connell until his death was a member of St. Patrick Society (SPS) of Catholic Church Mission in Nigeria.